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Bench Warrant is not Government Matter- PM Skerrit

by: - December 3, 2019
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The Hon Prime Minister and leader of the Dominica Labour Party issued a statement to the nation last night following video of destructive behaviour in the Marigot constituency preventing road access.

Hon Skerrit says those acts appear to be in retaliation to bench warrants being issued for United Workers Party Leader, Lennox Linton and former leader, Edison James- both from Marigot.

The Prime Minister calls on the opposition party to have its supporters stand down and comply with the laws of the land.

He inferred that the bench warrant, which is issued for an individual’s arrest when a defendant fails to show up for a court hearing and the flaming roadblock were coordinated.

He said, “It is significant that not long after the issue of the warrant, three things happened: First – a written message started making the rounds on social media that the warrant had been issued. This note was very inflammatory. The note made it appear that the issue of the warrant was an act of wrongdoing on the part of the magistrate, rather than standard procedure.

 

“Second – both Linton and James suddenly appeared in Court. Third – from videos being shared on social media, some residents of Marigot, Linton’s constituency, started dumping fridges, buckets, plywood and other combustible items into the road, making it impassable. These persons could be seen and heard waving UWP flags and shouting abuse. The material which been placed in the road was also set ablaze.”

Hon Skerrit says although the case stems from a political circumstance in 2017, the issue of the bench warrant is not political.

“This is not a government matter, but a legal one,” the Prime Minister said. “We all recall the 7th of February, 2017 when rioting took place in the capital city and attempts were made to burn down the city by UWP supporters. These supporters were encouraged by Lennox Linton, Edison James and others to defy the police and engage in civil disturbance. As a result of their actions on that day, criminal charges were brought against Linton and James and they appeared before the Courts.

“The case relating to this matter was adjourned. As a result of the adjournment they were told to appear before the Court, today December 2nd.”

He said further, “[On the] scheduled date, the cases came on for hearing in the Court. When their matter was called, neither Lennox Linton nor Edison James appeared. In accordance with the law and rules, the Court Orderly called their names three times to summon them into Court. Neither one of them appeared. When they did not appear, the presiding Magistrate issued a bench warrant for their arrest. This is standard procedure.”

 Hon Skerrit says it is normal procedure for bench warrants to be issued in these cases and any other defendant who misses his court date will be served with a warrant for his arrest.

Video emerged on social media on Monday of a Marigot road blocked by debris and white goods set ablaze.

On Tuesday, more video showed the Londonderry road in addition to the Marigot road made impassable from flaming debris and white goods.

In his address, Hon Skerrit repeatedly called on the leadership of the UWP to have their supporters stop tarnishing the island’s peaceful reputation.

Read the full statement here: PM Dec 2 final